Hello fellow aspirants, this is my attempt to share my experiences at the SSB interview for UES-24 entry at 21 SSB Bhopal. Having been a follower of SSBCrack for long and having greatly benefited by the articles here, I promised myself to write about my SSB interview on this forum in the hope that it may help aspirants in their preparation and provide motivation to achieve their dreams. It is only my humble way of paying back.
My journey began in November 2013, where as a third year engineering student, I was selected in the college level interviews by the Indian Army team. Fast forward to October 2014, when I got my call letter instructing me to report at Bhopal on 27 December 2014.
I slowly began preparations, firstly by familiarising myself with the structure and the various tasks of the interview. Then I began a study of the fifteen OLQs and developed strategies on how to display these in each of the tasks effectively. Doing this sort of preparation, I gradually understood the psychology behind the SSB interview. Finally, I did some practice on the various psych tasks (TAT, WAT, SRT, SD) and indoor GTO tasks (GD, GPE, lecturette etc).
I arrived at Bhopal on a sunny but cold day on 27 December, and on the first day as usual we had documentation and other formalities. A total of 156 candidates had reported and I was given chest number 3.
We reported at 0630 the next morning for the screening round. It started off with the OIR test and we were given two question sets with 40 questions each and given 17 minutes to solve each of them. I found this quite easy and I was confident of getting screened in. This was followed by PPDT where we were given a kind of negative picture, but I was happy with the story I wrote. Discussion followed, with 18 member groups, and with such a high number, I could not speak much. With this, my confidence wavered a little.
The results were announced soon after lunch, and I was delighted to find out I had been screened in along with 44 other candidates. We had to fill the PIQ in triplicate that very afternoon. Stage two, here we come!
The psych day was next, and it was the easiest set of tasks I had in the SSB. I had a reasonable amount of preparation and it helped a lot. I attempted all in TAT, WAT, SRT and SD (Self description), and was very happy with my attempt.
Some tips to note:
- TAT must be a positive story where the hero overcomes a problem/obstacle and emerges successful in the end.
- WAT must typically be observational in nature, and not opinionated.
- SRT must have full and complete solutions, which can be written in 2-3 sentences. Telegraphic language can be used to save time.
- Prepare the story for blank slide and the SD beforehand.
Attempting all is not very important. Rather, 50-55 good responses out of 60 is preferable.
GTO-1 day was next and we reported at the GTO ground in white shorts and t-shirts at 0700 hrs. It was especially difficult because it was biting cold at that time. After the introductions, we started with the GD. Here, the GTO gave two topics of very recent news, and I did a good job in it. This was followed by Group Planning Exercise. In GPE, my performance was average, and I was a little disappointed. Next, the GTO took us out to do the PGT. The third and fourth obstacles were especially tricky and the GTO kept taunting us to stress us (possibly). Being the first group task, there was some confusion among everyone and plenty of chaos. The HGT followed, and this was pretty much a smaller version of PGT.
After HGT, we went for Group Obstacle Race or snake race, which was arguably the most fun exercise in SSB. My team displayed excellent unity and we were able to cross the obstacles very well. Additionally, the loud shouts of our war cry “Bharat Mata ki Jai” provided additional josh. Finally our group was declared the winner. Although I knew winning the GOR doesn’t really count, it was a nice feeling.
The last task of GTO-1 day was Individual Obstacles. Having never done it before, I was a little nervous. When my turn came, however I did a good attempt, having attempted 9 out of 10 obstacles.
The same afternoon, I had my interview with the president of the board. I was asked about my childhood, education, hobbies, friends, teachers, family as a set of rapid fire questions. The interviewer also asked me about current affairs and tested my knowledge of the Indian Army. I was also asked two technical questions. There were a few questions on my NCC background, and I said this was one of the factors which motivated me to apply. Finally, I was asked the all-important question, “Why do you want to be in the Indian Army?” I gave a spontaneous answer to this question, and with this, my interview came to an end.
The next day was GTO-2 day, and we were left with only 3 of the 9 GTO tasks, which are lecturette, command task, and final group task.
Lecturette is quite a simple task, and everyone was able to speak for the whole duration of 3 minutes. It is important to maintain fluidity in delivering the speech, and appeal confident as well.
This was followed by the command task. At this time, adding to the cold, it also began to rain, but the GTO continued on with the CT. In this condition, I was called to assist 4 times by my group mates, and I helped as a subordinate. When my turn came to act as commander, I thought of a practical solution to pass the obstacles using the rope and plank to make a cantilever. My subordinates were quite helpful and their assistance was very useful. However, the GTO did not allow us to finish the task as time had run out. Finally, we had the Final Group Task, and by this time we had been accustomed in working as a group and performed quite satisfactorily. This brought an end to the GTO tasks and after a short closing address by the GTO, we were allowed to go back to the lines.
Some tips for GTO:
- Work as a team, and keeping the best interests of the group in mind.
- Remember you are not competing with your group mates, but with yourself.
- Do not try to dominate in any of the group tasks. Rather, give constructive suggestions.
- Behave politely with your subordinates in CT.
- Do not break any rule. If you do, simply go back to the previous point and repeat.
That day, being 31 December, we roamed around Bhopal visiting Upper lake, the mall and Taj-ul-masjid. Needless to say, it was plenty of fun, but also sad in the sense that the next day, we would each go our own ways, and all we would have of those five days would be memories.
The New Year dawned bright and refreshing and we were all excited at the possibility of beginning 2015 on a very successful note by getting recommended. We were made to wait for our turn at the conference one by one. The tension was palpable. Adding to the chilly winds, the collective anxiety seemed to drop the temperature of the room further.
After what seemed like an hour, my turn came. Walking into the conference room was an overwhelming sight, with all the testing officers wearing full uniform after meeting us for five days wearing civilian clothes. I was asked a few questions about my stay, my opinion of my performance and of my teammates. It got over in about two minutes itself and I was sent to await my destiny. Everyone was discussing about their chances of getting recommended. I was slightly apprehensive as I was not overall satisfied with my GTO performance.
An hour or two later, we were asked to assemble for the results. A major came and gave a small pep talk to encourage those who do not get recommended to apply again and not get disheartened. Soon, he began calling out chest numbers, and I feel everyone’s heartbeats sped up. My chest number was called and I felt a huge wave of relief and satisfaction. A total of 8 candidates were recommended.
I was declared medically fit in the tests that followed, and now am awaiting the merit list.
I am very grateful to my fellow candidates and Bhopal for the experiences and teamwork which helped me get recommended, and for my friends who did not get recommended that day, I would say, your time will come soon.
I am thankful to the CO and staff of my NCC unit who motivated me to apply, and also helped me prepare.
Finally, I am indebted to the SSBCrack team for their tremendous help in my preparation. A tip of the hat to you, ladies and gentlemen.